Saturday, November 27

Three non-David Freese moments that made the Cardinals’ unexpected 2011 World Series championship possible

David Freese forever etched his name in World Series tradition with not one, but two incredibly important extra bases at the end of Game 6 of the 2011 classic between his Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. His two-RBI triple tied the game with two outs – and two strikes – in the bottom of the ninth inning with St. Louis trailing 3-2 in the series, and his 11th-inning homer gave the Cardinals the victory.

Those two hits were so historic that almost every other moment in the Cardinals’ rather unlikely run to their 11th World Series title was lost in celebration. Included in that wash was Lance Berkman’s two-out, two-strike single in the 10th inning that tied the game and sent him into extra innings, which hardly seems possible.

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But it was, history books will tell you, the David Freese series. The Cardinals achieved a victory in Game 7 and Freese, a St. Louis native, was named World Series MVP, which matched nicely with his NLCS MVP trophy. Combined in those two series, Freese hit .444 with six doubles, four home runs, ESE TRIPLE, 11 runs scored and 16 RBIs in 14 games.

Ask Freese about that World Series, though, and he’ll tell you how everything that led up to his moments on the big stage was just as important, every little out and every little base hit that gave him a shot at success.

“It’s the little things that matter,” Freese told Sporting News, “in any facet of life.”

The Cardinals brought back the club members from 2011 for their 10th anniversary celebration in mid-September. As you can imagine, it was a great party remembering his great party.

“We had a lot of fun,” said staff ace Chris Carpenter. “This is probably the closest group I’ve been a part of, that I’ve played with.”

Carpenter had his moments, no doubt. He made three starts in the series, including six two-run innings with a short break in Game 7.

“I think about that World Series every day,” outfielder Jon Jay said. “It is something that changed my life forever, something for which I am very grateful. Everyone on the team really had their moment that led us to the next point. “

Rather than dive into a deep story of Freese’s heroics, on the 10th anniversary of that unforgettable Game 6 of the World Series, let’s take a look at three other moments that helped the Cardinals win and ultimately the championship.

Allen Craig’s home run in the eighth inning

Remember how we talked about how important moments were otherwise missed? Craig’s solo home run in the eighth inning of Game 6 counts.

“That was the most overlooked hit of the entire month,” Freese told SN.

How overlooked is the home run? You can’t even find a solo clip of the home run. Here it is as part of the condensed game (skip to 2:19).

Craig wasn’t even supposed to be at the plate in the eighth inning. But player Matt Holliday had injured his wrist on a slide to third base in the sixth inning and Craig replaced him in left field to start the seventh, hitting fifth in order.

“Coming off the bench was something that I had gotten used to in 2010 and even 2011, quite a bit, and then the World Series,” Craig said. “I was ready for any situation, and that happened fast, I found myself in the game.”

The score was tied when Craig entered the game, but the Rangers scored three times in the top of the seventh: consecutive home runs by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz, and an RBI single by Ian Kinsler. The Cardinals fell 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh against Texas southpaw Derek Holland and Lance Berkman flew to start the bottom of the eighth.

The Cardinals were three runs away with five outs remaining.

“I remember walking to the plate, a little frustrated that we were in the game. I didn’t think it was over, but it was running out and I was frustrated because he did quite well in Game 4, he struck out 10 guys and I struck out two or three times, “Craig said. “I thought, ‘I have to get this guy back, get him back.’ I went up there looking to do some damage. I got a good glider on the plate and I didn’t miss it. “

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Craig blew up a 78 mph ball from Holland over the left-field fence, just past Bob Gibson’s retired number, and slashed Texas’ lead.

“That was a moment of real and unrecognized momentum shift,” Berkman said. “At the time, I know the Rangers were probably like, bored, solo homer and the lead is three to two, we still feel good about where we are. But for us, it was like, ‘Okay, we’re still in this.’ There is a big difference between a three-run lead and a two-run lead. A two-run lead is a block and a blast and you’re back at it. That was a great, great moment that is often overlooked. “

The Game 6 home run wasn’t Craig’s last moment of heroism. In the third inning of Game 7, he fired another solo shot, this one breaking a 2-2 tie. And in the sixth inning of Game 7, with the Cardinals leading 5-2, Nelson Cruz hit a deep one to left field. Craig found the wall and timed his jump, robbing Cruz of a home run that would have cut the lead from three to two (hmm … that sounds familiar).

“Honestly, I’ve never stolen a home run before,” Craig said. “That was my first. I just remember Nelson hitting that ball through the roof. As I went down, I tried to time the jump at the right time. Luckily I did well. The whole World Series, very grateful for those opportunities. “

Jason Motte’s 10th Inning

Yes, it feels strange to talk about Motte’s performance. After all, he’s the one who allowed Josh Hamilton’s two-run home run in the 10th inning.

“When that happened, literally, I remember I threw him, he hit him and he thought, ‘Hey. That smells bad. I just lost the World Series. Well, okay, ‘”Motte said. “I got the ball back and I was like, ‘Hey, come on. Who is the next one? I have to get these two guys out or it’ll be a lot uglier. ‘

And that’s why it’s here. Limiting damage in the postseason is very important. How many times have we seen that just in the 2021 playoffs? Do you remember Game 4 of the ALCS? With two outs and two strikes, Jason Castro singled to Nathan Eovaldi to give the Astros a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning. Yes, there was a missed strike call that shouldn’t have happened, but at the time it was still a one-run game. The next six batters for the Astros reached base, with three singles, two walks and a double and six runs crossed the plate.

In the blink of an eye, he went from a 3-2 game to a 9-2 game.

Big numbers change luck. Motte did not allow a large number.

“All you can do is worry about the next release. That was always my mindset when I released, ‘Okay, next release.’ Whether the guy homered or struck out, none of that matters. You have to worry about the next pitch you’re about to make, do your best, “said Motte. “I was able to get the next two, then (Daniel) Descalso and Jay came up, then we tied him up again. This is how this game is. You have to move on, control what you can control. I couldn’t control anything that had already happened. All I could control was my thinking and what I was about to do. “

Motte retired Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltré to end the inning and keep the Cardinals at attack distance.

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Kyle Lohse’s sacrifice touch in the 10th inning

So now, the Cardinals are two runs down, three outs from elimination, in the bottom of the 10th. Descalso leads with a single to right field and Jay follows with a single to left field. The Cardinals are in business. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is in no position to use players, so he has Edwin Jackson, a decent hitting pitcher, in the circle on the deck like Jay at the plate.

But when Jay gets a hit, La Russa reconsiders and goes with pitcher Kyle Lohse, who is a worse hitter but a better bunter. “That’s probably the last player I expected to be in that game, especially hitting,” Descalso said.

It’s true, Lohse confirms.

“Yes, it was a dream, when I was 12 years old,” Lohse said with a laugh. “After realizing that I couldn’t hit, I kind of lost that dream. My job was to do the opposite of hitting a home run. My job was to get out. When you think about it like that, it’s pretty crazy. “

Rangers pitcher Darren Oliver’s first pitch went inside and nearly hit Lohse. The second went after him. And, well, just watch (at the 3:13:35 mark).

First, Lohse has a thought on Joe Buck’s decision that “Lohse’s bad touch works as it outstrips him to Beltre.”

“I mentioned it to Joe Buck,” he laughed. “When I saw it once or twice, I was like, ‘Dude, you made it look like it was the luckiest thing ever, but look at the angle. It was perfect between the pitcher and third baseman, which is what he had to do because if I touch him on the line, it’s an easy double play. I am not earning anything. I couldn’t even get over what I did. Most people could have gotten over it. “

Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus reversed the field, scooped the ball up and threw Lohse to first base. A few years later, Andrus and Lohse were teammates.

“I asked him, ‘How? How did you stop on a dime and turn around and kick me out? ‘”Lohse said. “He just laughed at me and said, ‘It’s my job and you’re slow. It’s not a great deal. ‘”

Descalso and Jay moved up one base, and Descalso scored on a Ryan Theriot ground ball off new pitcher Scott Feldman. With two outs and the Cardinals to one run, Texas intentionally walked Albert Pujols, who had hit three home runs in Game 3, to pitch to Berkman. This is where the switch-hitter pitched his two-strike, two-out RBI single that scored Jay from second.

Everything is possible because of the little things Freese talked about. In this case, the hours spent with coach Dave McKay, figuring out how to do a proper bunt, in case he ever, you know, gets called in the 10th inning of a World Series game with his team trailing by two runs.

“Fortunately, I spent all the time that I did with McKay out there, learning bat angles and stuff,” Lohse said. “I pushed it and put it in the air a little more, a lot more, than I wanted, but because the angle was solid, I came out with a little lack of execution because you did the other things well.”

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